Talking Book News Bulletin, Spring 2010.........Español

Internal Links
Director's Report
Holiday Closings
Joan Didion
Flag Day
New product from Kansas Braille Transcription Institute
Readers' Favorites
Alamo Council of the Blind
BWR: Gothic Romances
Cartridges and Flashdrives

Related Links
Loan Policy
Spotlight on Texas Books
Disability Information & Referral Center
National Library Service for the Blind & Physically Handicapped

Director's Report

Greetings! Here is the latest news:

Update on renovations at the State Library Building:  The renovation work on the Lorenzo de Zavala State Archives and Library Building is almost complete. The Talking Book Program’s (TBP’s) administrative operations and the Reader Services call center relocated to temporary quarters in July 2008 while these renovations have been ongoing. TBP will be moving back to the state library building on Friday, May 7, 2010. We will be closed Thursday, May 6 through Monday, May 10. We will not be answering any telephone calls during these days, but you will be able to leave voicemail messages and send us emails. Please check our web page at or call our toll-free information line at 1-866-388-6397 for the latest information about the move.

If you have a problem with overdues, you may be losing your turn for the Digital Talking Book Machine (DTBM):  The Talking Book Program (TBP) is distributing the new digital talking book machines (DTBMs) and digital talking books (DTBs). We have an automated distribution system for the DTBMs, and if you have a problem with your account, the system will skip over you and go to the next person in line. The system will continue to skip over you until the problems with your account are resolved. The most common account problem is overdue books. If you have been on the waiting list for many months and still haven’t received a machine, then you may have overdue books or other account problems that are preventing you from receiving a new DTBM. Please call a reader consultant at 1-800-252-9605 to resolve any problems with your account. You also may send a request via e-mail to   

If you have not made your reservation for a DTBM, now is a good time to do so. Because we are receiving more DTBMs each month from the manufacturer, the wait time is being reduced for those with reservations. If you want to receive a DTBM, please call a reader consultant at 1-800-252-9605 for assistance. You also may send a request via e-mail to   

BARD download site is available:  The National Library Service (NLS) has an Internet site of books and magazines that may be downloaded and played on your DTBM, Victor Reader Stream, or any of the other commercial players authorized to play NLS books. The site is called BARD, which stands for Braille and Audio Reading Download. The site is located at and uses a login and password system. BARD has over 18,000 books and 45 magazines available for download. Because BARD uses logins and passwords, you will need to apply for your BARD account. In order to be approved for BARD, your account with TBP must be in good standing. In order to use BARD, you will need a computer with unzipping software, a high-speed Internet connection, a flash drive cartridge or a thumb drive, and basic knowledge of file transfer and storage. For more information about BARD and to sign up, please contact a reader consultant at 1-800-252-9605 or at   

Production of books on cassette will be slowing down:  Now that the new digital services are firmly established, the production of cassette books will begin to wind down. The National Library Service (NLS) will cease its production of books on cassette at the end of 2010. That’s only nine months away! The last books in the production pipeline will come out in early 2011. Thereafter, new books on cassette will be a thing of the past. That means that if you like to read the newest books available, you will need to either have a digital talking book machine (DTBM) or have purchased one of the commercial players authorized to play the digital books on cartridge and/or downloads from the NLS BARD site. We will continue to circulate books on cassette from our large library and issue cassette playback machines for as long as we have them. We encourage all patrons using cassettes, however, to place themselves on the list for a DTBM as soon as possible. Please call a reader consultant at 1-800-252-9605 to discuss changing over to digital services.

Newsletter by email:  Do you want to receive our newsletter by email instead of on paper? If so, please call a reader consultant at 1-800-252-9605 or send an email to Tell us that you want to change your newsletter preference to email and give us your email address. The newsletter also is available on our web page at and on the toll-free information line at 1-866-388-6397.

Until next time,
Ava Smith, Director, Talking Book Program

Texas Talking Books will be closed for these holidays.

  • Memorial Day on Monday, May 31, 2010

Of course, you can leave a message or send e-mail on a holiday.

Featured Author: Joan Didion

Joan Didion is an American author born in 1934. Her many fans love her novels and essays with their detailed and passionate narratives. She was born in Sacramento, California and attended the University of California at Berkeley. Didion has worked and lived in New York City for much of her life.
The Talking Book Program has thirteen of Didion’s books. Throughout the last several decades, she has earned a great deal of praise and won many awards, including the National Book Award in 2005 for The Year of Magical Thinking (RC 61740). In this best seller, the writer reflects on her emotional response to the unexpected death of her husband, John Gregory Dunne, after a visit to their comatose daughter. This book discusses the shock of suddenly facing a crisis, the memory of their time together as a family, and the meaning of marriage. To order this book, please call 1-800-252-9605 and ask for RC 61740.

Flag Day is Celebrated on June 14

Flag Day commemorates the 1777 date when the Second Continental Congress adopted the U.S. flag as its official symbol. This holiday is observed in many parts of the U.S. with parades and speeches. Quincy, Massachusetts has had a parade every year since 1952. The most celebrated location is the Betsy Ross House in Philadelphia. (“Flag Day (United States)”,
Retrieved 11 December 2009).

A new product is now available that may interest you. The Kansas Braille Transcription Institute (KBTI) now offers a tactile flag on thermoform paper. The flag has the Pledge of Allegiance displayed in large print with a Braille overlay on the stripes. Choose either contracted or uncontracted Braille. It measures 7.5” x 9.5” and costs $5.00.
You may order one from the KBTI at or the National Braille Press at

Call the Disability Information and Referral Center toll-free at
1-800-252-9605 for information about disabilities and health conditions.

Here are four books that many of our readers have enjoyed.

You may also like to read them. To order one of these books, call 1-800-252-9605 and ask for its number.

Hangman’s Root: A China Bayles Mystery  by Susan Wittig Albert
CT 05716 Narrated by Staci Finch. This book has two cassettes.
Fur flies in Pecan Springs, Texas, as lawyer-turned-herbalist China Bayles finds herself involved in an animal rights dispute. When biology professor Miles Hardwick is found murdered, everyone suspects his hated neighbor and animal rights activist, Dottie Riddle. But did Dottie’s concern for stray cats push her to murder Hardwick over his department’s animal experimentation? This book contains some descriptions of sex and some strong language.

Moy Sand and Gravel by Paul Muldoon
BR 15139
Pulitzer Prize-winning collection from Irish born postmodern poet. Nearly fifty poems are peppered with rhyme and historical allusion reflecting Muldoon’s Irish upbringing and heritage as well as his later American life raising a family in suburban New Jersey.

Free Range Lanning by Max Brand
LB 04384
Young Andrew Lanning falls in love and becomes a desperado, all in one day. Egged on by his uncle, gunslinger Jasper Lanning, Andrew almost kills a man. Pursued by a posse, Andrew flees to the mountains, where he finds more trouble. This book has some violence and is a companion to The Return of Free Range Lanning, (RC 47482).

One Ranger: A Memoir by H. Joaquin Jackson
CT 06884
Narrated by Ev Lunning. This book has three cassettes. In this adventure-filled memoir, H. Joaquin Jackson recalls what it was like to be the Ranger who responded when riots threatened, violence erupted, and criminals needed to be brought to justice across a wide swath of the Texas-Mexico border from 1966 to 1993. This book contains some profanity and violence.

Mention of a product or service in this news bulletin does not constitute endorsement by this library. Our intention is to increase an awareness of programs and items that may be helpful to our patrons.

The Alamo Council of the Blind is a chapter of the American Council of the Blind of Texas. The Council meets at 12:00 noon on the second Saturday of each month at the Golden Phoenix restaurant at 9323 Perrin Beitel in San Antonio.
In addition to monthly meetings, the group offers special events “to better the lives of people with visual impairment.”
For example, a special afternoon of “food-music-beverages-connection-fun” is planned at Morgan’s Wonderland Fiesta on April 24. Space is limited, so call soon to learn more about this event.

The chapter’s mailing address is
9639 Orchid Meadows
San Antonio, Texas 78250.
You can call 210-492-4420 for more information.

Books Worth Revisiting: Gothic Romances

Romance novels are very popular, and for those who like a little suspense with their romances, the gothic romance can be a very satisfying read.  Three distinct characteristics define the gothic romance.  The first is the young and naïve heroine who is usually poor, alone in the world, and finds herself suddenly living in a large house presided over by a charismatic master. This fascinating hero is, of course, the second characteristic of the gothic romance.  Our hero is a man of the world, capable, arrogant, and rich, and there’s something about him that is suspicious, threatening, or just irritating; our heroine may not trust him and certainly does not understand him.  Nevertheless, she cannot help herself—she falls hopelessly in love and spends a large portion of the story in emotional turmoil.  The third characteristic of a gothic romance is that the story is always set in a splendid mansion on an impressive estate. The house often is so dominant in the story that it is like a third character in a romantic triangle: hero, heroine, house. And in true gothic fashion, something secretive, brooding, perilous is going on in the house, and our heroine soon finds that danger is closing in on her.  

Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier RC 48914; BR 12354; LB 00964; BARD download. Rebecca, published in 1938, is the standard for gothic romances, and for Daphne du Maurier (1907-1989), it was the masterpiece in her distinguished writing career.  Its opening line, “Last night I dreamt that I went to Manderley, again,” is one of the most famous in modern literature.  Manderley, of course, is the house at the center of this well-loved classic.  The young, nameless heroine finds herself suddenly married to the enigmatic and brooding Maxim de Winter, owner of the fabled mansion on the Cornish coast. Almost immediately, the new Mrs. de Winter feels herself overwhelmed by the memory of her husband’s first wife, the remarkable Rebecca, who had died the year before.  So dominating is Rebecca’s presence that the new Mrs. de Winter creeps about Manderley as if she is an unwanted intruder and fears to come into contact with Mrs. Danvers, the mansion’s intimidating housekeeper who was totally devoted to her late mistress.  When a terrible secret comes to light that threatens Max’s very life, his new wife finds she is stronger and braver than anyone would have suspected.  Suitable for adult and mature young adult readers. To order this book, call 1-800-252-9605 and ask for RC 48914 / BR 12354 / LB 00964 or download it from the BARD site.

Mistress of Mellyn by Victoria Holt  RC 44443; LB 01117; BARD download. Victoria Holt is one of the pseudonyms of London-born author Eleanor Hibbert (1906-1993), and as Holt, she published thirty-two novels between 1960 and 1993.  Mistress of Mellyn was the first.  For a time, readers believed that Holt was really Daphne Du Maurier.  This mistake mystified Holt, who saw no similarities in their writing styles, and she finally concluded that her novel’s setting in Cornwall must have been the explanation.  Martha Leigh journeys to Cornwall to become governess at the atmospheric and isolated estate of Connan TreMellyn.  Martha finds the Cornish way of life very different from her quiet upbringing in rural England, but she thinks Mount Mellyn, the house at the center of the TreMellyn estate, to be an architectural wonder.  Everyone is fascinated by her employer, whose private life is a rich source for gossipy speculation.  The year before, Connan’s wife had run away with a handsome neighbor, but the pair were killed in a train crash. Much mystery surrounds the tragedy, and as Martha finds herself falling in love with Connan, she also learns that Mount Mellyn has many secrets, some of which are deadly.  This book is suitable for young adult and adult readers.  To order this book, call 1-800-252-9605 and ask for RC 44443 / LB 01117 or download it from the BARD site.

Cousin Kate by Georgette Heyer RC 55928; BR 00988 and 14566; BARD download. Georgette Heyer (1902-1974) is best known for her period romances, and while Cousin Kate, published in 1968, is definitely a romance, it also has a darkness about it that set it apart from Heyer’s other romances.  Kate Malvern, a penniless governess who has lost her latest position, finds herself spirited away to Staplewood Manor by Lady Minerva Broome, her late father’s half-sister.  Because her father had long ago quarreled with his half-sister, Kate really knows nothing about her aunt and finds her to be rather dictatorial and overpowering.  Having no other options, however, she accepts what looks to be nothing but kindness on her aunt’s part and soon finds herself installed as companion to her cousin Torquil. Kate, a very practical young woman, quickly realizes that all is not well at Staplewood Manor, especially with her cousin, who is a moody and excitable young man.   Kate is by turns mystified, amused, and alarmed by the state of the household, as family, friends, and servants all try to keep Torquil’s reckless and rebellious behavior in check.  Kate finds herself more and more turning to Phillip Broome, Torquil’s elder cousin, for advice and soon protection, as she realizes her aunt’s true reason for bringing her to Staplewood.  A gem of a gothic romance with an explosive ending, this book is suitable for young adult and adult readers.  To order this book, call 1-800-252-9605 and ask for RC 55928 / BR 00988 and 14566 or download it from the BARD site.

Cartridges and Flash Drives

Use one of these when downloading from BARD (Braille and Audio Reading Download) to play in your NLS Digital Talking Book Machine.
Other players may use other types of storage devices—contact the manufacturer for assistance.

Blank NLS digital cartridge:
1G or 2G; holds approximately 92 hours of NLS books per G.
Requires a cable (USB Cable (A-A) with Type A Male connector on one end and Type A Female connector on the other) to connect to your computer while downloading.

Advantages: Designed for NLS player, so no compatibility issues; fits in cartridge slot; easier to insert/remove from machine.
Contact us at 1-800-252-9605 for purchase information.

Flash drive:

Also called jump drive, thumb drive.
Fits in USB port on the side of the NLS machine.
Some brands work better than others; look for those without built-in U3 software or other special formatting. Brands that have been reported to work include:

Dane Elec

Look for 1G to 8G of memory; those with more memory may not work.
Files other than BARD books should be either removed from the flash drive, or put in a folder called “audio+podcasts.”

Advantages: Available locally at most discount, electronic, or department stores; available in larger sizes that hold more books.

kwalls, TBP/TSLAC (adapted from work of Kentucky Talking Book Library) March 2010

Talking Book Program
Texas State Library and Archives Commission
PO Box 12927
Austin TX 78711-2927
1-800-252-9605 (in Texas)
512-463-5458 (in Austin)
512-936-0685 (fax)

Page last modified: August 30, 2011